Party of Five

Adobe Opens Formats to Put Flash on More Screens
by: Jerry Liao

It seems that the I.T. world is being cornered by four companies: Microsoft, Yahoo, Google and Apple. These four companies are battling it out to dominate their respective market. But there’s another contender that is slowly creeping to become a force to reckon with – ADOBE.

Adobe Systems Incorporated announced the Open Screen Project, supported by a group of industry leaders, including ARM, Chunghwa Telecom, Cisco, Intel, LG Electronics Inc., Marvell, Motorola, Nokia, NTT DoCoMo, Qualcomm, Samsung Electronics Co., Sony Ericsson, Toshiba and Verizon Wireless. The project is dedicated to driving rich Internet experiences across televisions, personal computers, mobile devices, and consumer electronics. Also supporting the Open Screen Project are leading content providers, including BBC, MTV Networks, and NBC Universal, who want to reliably deliver rich Web and video experiences live and on-demand across a variety of devices.

The Open Screen Project is working to enable a consistent runtime environment — taking advantage of Adobe Flash Player and, in the future, Adobe AIR — that will remove barriers for developers and designers as they publish content and applications across desktops and devices, including phones, mobile Internet devices (MIDs), and set top boxes. The Open Screen Project will address potential technology fragmentation by enabling the runtime technology to be updated seamlessly over the air on mobile devices. The consistent runtime environment is intended to provide optimal performance across a variety of operating systems and devices, and ultimately provide the best experience to consumers.

To support this mission, and as part of Adobe’s ongoing commitment to enable Web innovation, Adobe will continue to open access to Adobe Flash technology, accelerating the deployment of content and rich Internet applications (RIAs). This work will include:

— Removing restrictions on use of the SWF and FLV/F4V specifications

— Publishing the device porting layer APIs for Adobe Flash Player

— Publishing the Adobe Flash Cast protocol and the AMF protocol for robust data services

— Removing licensing fees – making next major releases of Adobe Flash Player and Adobe AIR for devices free

“Adobe is spearheading the Open Screen Project with support from industry leaders who share a common vision to provide rich, interactive experiences across computers, devices and consumer electronics,” said Shantanu Narayen, chief executive officer at Adobe. “A consistent, more open platform for developers will drive rapid innovation, vastly improving the user experience.”

Adobe Flash Player is the world’s most pervasive client runtime, delivering unparalleled creative options, highly engaging user experiences, stunning audio/video playback, and universal reach. Content for Adobe Flash Player reaches over 98 percent of Internet-enabled desktops and more than a half billion handsets and mobile devices today. Adobe expects more than one billion handsets and mobile devices to ship with Adobe Flash technology by 2009. Flash technology is used to deliver vector graphics, text, interactivity and application logic, video and sound over the Internet. More than 75 percent of broadcasters who stream video on the Web use Flash technology. Adobe AIR is the next-generation RIA runtime for the desktop, supporting HTML, Ajax, Adobe Flash technology and PDF.

The digital explosion across multiple screens is raising consumers’ expectations for engaging experiences wherever and however they connect with content. Web browsing on mobile devices is becoming commonplace, but delivering a consistent rich Internet experience remains a challenge. To ensure that user expectations are fulfilled, software applications and video must work seamlessly across multiple devices and content must be easily available across those devices.

From the list, did you notice the companies that are missing? Microsoft, Yahoo, Google and Apple are not part of the list. Yahoo is the least likely competitor of Adobe since Yahoo can definitely work with Adobe.

With the last project of Adobe, it is a strong signal that they want to be a strong player in the mobile world and will compete head on with the maker of Windows Mobile (Microsoft), Android (Google) and the iPhone (Apple).

It’s too early to say who’s going to win this battle but one thing’s for sure – the consumers will definitely benefit from this, and that’s what I like most about competitions.

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